A Life Worthy of the Gospel
The Bible always stresses a balance between the content of
one’s beliefs and the resulting conduct in one’s life. A good example is found
in Ephesians 4:1-3. “I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live
worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and
gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (NET).
Paul admonishes us to “live worthily of the calling with
which you have been called.” He means that we must live a life worthy of our
high calling in Christ Jesus. Our practice should equal the teachings of our
doctrine. We should take great pains to see that our lives are lived in perfect
The Biblical principle for living the Christian life is
quite simply stated: The believer puts into daily practice the principles of the
Word of God by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
In order to live a balanced Christian life there must be
good sound Biblical teaching. I have never seen any mature Christian who did not
have a good understanding of the teaching of the Word of God. Practice without
sound Bible teaching will go off in any and every direction. We can never attach
too much importance to solid Biblical doctrine. How can a Christian live a life
worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if he does not know what the Christian life
is all about? At the same time we must never detach the importance of putting
into practice what we understand to be true.
How then do we live a life worthy of our calling? The Christian life is not
the same thing as the culturally accepted norms of the local community in which
we live. The world is antagonistic to the Christian life (1 John 2:15-17). God
has called us “out of the darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9b NET).
How tragic when you can’t tell the difference between the standards of the
culture and the local church.
We were spiritually bankrupt, emotionally in bondage, and morally corrupt.
However, when we were saved God awakened us to a new life and gave us the power
to live that new life. We are now spiritually alive. “But God, being rich in
mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were
dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are
saved!” (Eph. 2:5 NET)
The apostle Paul wrote, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17
Therefore, the apostle Paul admonishes us to, “Be completely humble.” That is
the opposite of arrogance and self-assertion. The world tells us to stand up for
your rights. Be assertive. Demand respect. The Bible says, “Instead of being
motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be
moved to treat one another as more important than yourself” (Phil. 2:3 NET). The
world philosophy pulls in one direction, the Holy Spirit insists on another. Do
you put other people’s needs and interests before your own? Are you out for
We need to be gentle with people. The word Paul uses for “gentle” is power
under control. “Meek” doesn’t quite give the sense of the original. The gentle
person is a strong person under God’s control. This is what it means to be a
Spirit filled. The Spirit filled believer is a Spirit-controlled person. Jesus
was this kind of a person, and he set the example for us. “Take my yoke on you
and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29
NET). “Blessed are the meek, for
they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5 NET). That will be true because all who
are not will kill themselves off in power struggles.
We must be patient. Literally it means “long-tempered.” It
is the attitude that will never give in when the going gets tough. It sticks
with it and reaps the rewards. It is the attitude that never admits defeat in
disappointments and discouragement, but persists to the end. It is the attitude
that refuses to retaliate, bears insults and injury without bitterness and
Patience comes over a long time of suffering. I doubt if
anyone is patient who has never suffered physically, emotionally or spiritually
in life. We learn patience through the things we suffer (Rom. 5:3). God is very
patient with us and we need to become like him.
“Bearing with one another in love” is how we respond to the unloving behavior
of other Christians toward us. How do we “put up with one another”? What is our
typical response when other people do us evil? What is my attitude when I see
two Christians having problems in their relationships? What is my attitude
toward problems in a church? Do I do as Paul suggests here, “making every effort
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? (v. 3 NET)
Paul is saying the Holy Spirit has already given us this
unity when we put our faith in Christ. We are not called upon to create this
unity, but to “keep the unity.” Pride destroys this unity in the Spirit. Over
powering self-assertion destroys vital relationships with other believers. Being
short-tempered, rude and non-extending our love to those who act ugly to us
destroys all effort at keeping this “unity of the Spirit through the bond of
peace.” Churches grieve the Holy Spirit just as individuals do (4:30-31). Let’s
be determined to “walk in the Spirit” and keep ourselves under his control.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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